Friday, July 01, 2011

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Teach Yourself Circular Knitting Visually

I am always excited to participate in a blog tour, but when the author of the book is a personal friend, that makes it even more of a pleasure. Today we are taking part in Melissa Morgan-Oakes' blog tour for her new book, Teach Yourself VISUALLY Circular Knitting (Wiley 2011; MSRP $21.99; available for $14.95 via the link). So sit back and enjoy as I review this book for your reading and knitting pleasure.



For a while now, knitters have debated the merits of knitting flat pieces versus knitting items or parts of items in the round. There's no need for that debate here; suffice it to say that knitting in the round presents some terrific advantages, including speed (never having to purl, avoiding seam-sewing), structural advantages (e.g. socks without a seam to irritate your foot), and convenience. But some knitters can find it hard to envision exactly how to do all these magical things in the round. For those knitters and newer folks who haven't yet learned about knitting in the round, there is Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting.

TYVCK is a paperback, a whopping 245 pages, and full-color throughout. This is intended to be an instructional book rather than "just" a selection of patterns, and so the majority of those 245 pages are devoted to technical stuff. Let's take a chapter-by-chapter look:

Chapter 1 starts with the basics, with a good introductory section explaining what circular knitting is and the pros and cons of using this method. I especially like that each "pro" or "con" has a photograph next to it, showing you exactly what the pro or con is -- if you weren't sure what "jogs on horizontal stripes" are, and why this is a disadvantage, for example, there is a handy-dandy photograph showing you. The section continues by considering different needle options (again, lots of great technical stuff, including a discussion of needle materials, interchangeble needes, joins and tips); yarn recommendation for beginners to circular knitting; and a look at other tools the knitter might need.


Example of technical instruction (showing jogs in stripes)

Chapter 2 takes a look at different circular knitting methods: double-pointed needles, one circular needle, the "Magic Loop" method, and two circulars. The section also includes how to cast on and bind off in the round. There's even a chart in the back which compares different circular knitting methods, including tips on when to use them and for which items.

Chapter 3 is really fabulous: it anticipates common problems that arise when learning to knit in the round, showing exactly what the problems look like and how to fix them. So if you end up with the dreaded mobius cast-on, or a gap at the join, MMO shows you how to fix this (in some cases giving several alternate solutions). There's also info on joining new yarn while knitting int he round (including the dreaded "spit splice"); working charts in the round; avoiding jogs in stripes; working stranded and other color designs in the round; even how to make fake seams.

Adult cable sweater (from the Advanced Projects section)

The projects begin with Chapter 4, and they are helpfully grouped by difficulty. Chapter 4 presents three "starter" projects for beginning, including an earwarmer, double-thick potholders and fingerless mitts.


Fingerless mitts (from the Starter Projects section)

Chapter 5 gets the knitter ready for beginning a more substantial project. "Planning a Project" walks the knitter through choosing the proper size, picking out yarn, selecting a stitch pattern, swatching and the ever-important gauge.

Chapter 6 picks up with some simple projects: a circular cowl, (I like that MMO gives variations so you can make a stockinette one to start, then make one in a pattern stitch once you get more comfortable with the technique); hats for kids; and hats for grown-ups.

Chapter 7, "Intermediate Projects", presents a felted tote bag, mittens sized for the whole family, and a basic sock pattern (again sized kids to adult).

Chapter 8 are the advanced projects, including a baby cardigan/hat/booties set, a child's striped pullover and an adult pullover with a center cable motif.


Baby set (from the Advanced Projects section)

I didn't really expect to see a section on steeks, but darn if Chapter 9 isn't devoted to them. For the ace student, if knitting in the round isn't enough, MMO shows you the usefulness of steeks: knitting a garment in the round and then cutting a seam in it. (Usually this is used to knit a cardigan in the round, with the seam becoming the front opening, with buttonbands added.) What is brilliant about this section is that it features a "starter" steek project -- a shawl that is knit as a parallelogram and then steeked. Why bother? Well, it's a great way to practice a steek on a garment that won't take as long to knit. Do your first steek on a one-color shawl, and then when you knit a gorgeous Dale cardigan in colorwork, you'll know what you're doing when it comes time to cut into it.


Steeked Shawl

I also didn't expect to see a mini-stitch dictionary in the back of the book, but there is one (with lots of photos, natch), and there's one last section that illustrates basic knitting techniques.


Example of instruction (this one showing twists in a cast-on)

Summing up, then, TYVCK is a fabulous resource for knitters who would like to learn how to knit in the round, or for knitters who have a general idea how to do it but aren't proficient or would like a better understanding of the technique. I suspect that even some quite proficient in-the-round knitters would pick up a thing or two from this comprehensive resource. Best of all, I like the fact that this book (and the entire "Teach Yourself Visually" series) acknowledges the reality that different people have different learning styles. Some people like to see something illustrated in a photograph while others are better with verbal descriptions. Luckily for knitters, MMO's new book does a great job with both.

And exciting news: MMO and Wiley Books have generously provided not only a review copy for me to paw through, but a second copy for me to give away to one of you lucky readers. It is even autographed by Her Nibs, MMO herself. To win, leave a comment below by midnight July 4th. I will use a random number generator to select a comment and the commenter will receive this copy. One entry per customer, please, and make sure there's a way for me to contact you either via your Blogger profile or in the comment. (FYI: due to spammers, I have to moderate comments, so don't worry if it doesn't appear immediately.)

And continue with the MMO Blog Tour tomorrow, July 2, chez Sunset Cat, and gaze adoringly at Stefanni and her Tonkinese cats.

46 comments:

Jen said...

I taught myself to knit in the round and would love to be able to improve my skills....

Dianna said...

Thanks for the sneak peek. I really want this book!!!

Dianna

dllew70@embarqmail.com

Sewfast said...

What a great book! Thanks for the opportunity to win a signed copy! Mary mdeeter@hotmail.com

Gina said...

This book sounds terrific - with something to offer everyone from the beginner to the advanced but haven't yet attempted steeks - and everyone in between. With all the pictures, it sounds like it would make a fantastic reference book. Thanks for offering your "extra" copy.

Jane said...

I love knitting in the round but need to improve my skills. I took Melissa's 2-at-a-time class and I love Melissa.

Bonnie said...

Thanks so much for the review and the giveaway!

Diane E said...

Would love to improve my skills with magic loop method and techniques. Thanks for the contest.


tbediane@aol.com

Ardosa said...

Wow that would be a great book to wil

Leslie said...

Sure would love this book -- I've been knitting on Magic Loop for several years but there are always new things to learn.

Marcia said...

I've seen other of these "Learn Visually" books and they are terrific. I've always used circular needles -- just seem easier somehow.

thanks for doing this!

Marilyn said...

Sounds like a great book, definitely up my alley!

marilyn.nance@sbcglobal.net

Pacas said...

I'm a visually learner and would love to win this lovely book !!

JelliDonut said...

A STEEKED shawl? That one really got my attention!

Josiane said...

Sounds like a great resource to go deeper into circular knitting. Thanks for a chance at winning a copy of the book!

Luise said...

What a great book to enhance my already firm love of circular knitting. Hope I win it! (And looking forward to felicitous felines tomorrow.)

Geraldine said...

Yes, my knitting skills would definitely benefit from this book! Thanks for the chance of winning!

phaedra96 said...

Love circulars, I use them for just about everything except socks and hats! I think I would enjoy this book!

GerryART said...

There are several projects in this wonderful book that I'm dying to put on my needle.

Christine Lima said...

Looks like a must-have kind of book!

Rebecca said...

Hi, thank you — looks like a great book, as is Melissa's Toe-Up 2-at-a-time socks, and other Teach Yourself Visually books have proven to be excellent. I enjoy knitting in the round but am keen to learn some techniques: steeking and intarsia, for starters. I'm sure this book will help. :)

rebecca at knittingwithwords dot com

Small and Moody said...

I love circular knitting! This looks like a great book that I would love to win!!! :)

anne marie in philly said...

I taught myself circular, but I don't know magic loop or 2 circs.

so yeah, toss my name in the hat.

you know how to contact me...the nearest men's room wall, right? (wink wink nudge nudge)

Kitten With a Whiplash said...

I've got zero visualization skills. Ask me to imagine a square and I'd probably picture a Vodka bottle. Hmmm. Describe a knitting technique and I'd probably picture a frosty Brandy Alexander. Hmmm. Anyway, I'd love to have this book with all the pics to help me improve my circular knitting.

Carol said...

Anne Marie In Philly, if you win, I will have my husband hand-deliver the book to your home.

Jenni said...

The book looks very informative and helpful.. what a great addition to any knitter's collection! :)

MimiD said...

The title tells it all, but the interior sounds even more interesting. I would love to win this book.

Diana said...

I love knitting in the round, and I'm always eager to learn new tricks.

Anonymous said...

Would love to win this book. It looks like an interesting read. I love circular knitting! LynnIL ravelry

DataGoddess said...

You call yourself a stalker and you didn't actually do an interview?! I'm *shocked* ;-)

Actually, I really appreciate the review, because while I have knit plenty in the round, being self-taught I have knowlege gaps and it looks like this book would help me fill them.

T.T.J. said...

This book sounds fantastic & would probably answer many of my questions

NanciKnits said...

I really, really ,really want to win this book. My books budget is used up!!!!

katrog said...

Hah! I always think I know it all, but, of course I don't. Many clever ideas in the book.

Kathleen

wilsonjanem at verizon dot net said...

This would be a great book to add to my library. Thanks for the opportunity.

Carol Perecman said...

Looks like a great book--thanks for the chance to win a copy!

caroldotperecmanatattdotnet

Anna said...

Circular knitting is still really awkward for me. I'd love to learn properly. Thanks for the giveaway!

p said...

Would love to win this great book! Thanks for a chance!!
purl

Tucson knitter said...

I'd love to have this book in my library!

Laura said...

My first knitting in the round was the cute newborn baby apple hat.. with the stem and two leaves. I realize it was then how much more fun knitting can be! for needles.. I would love to try the round needles with the cord.. and make socks with it.. Yeah!

Thank you!

Laurabal25@gmail.com

Enid said...

I do knit in the round, but would love to reinforce my skills. Thanks and happy 4th!

SewIknit2 said...

your review has definitely inspired me to look at knitting something other than "just socks" in the round! it sounds a really useful book - thanks for a good review!
Sue x

Deb said...

I'd sure love to get this book! It sounds like something I would definitely benefit from!

Knit-Chat said...

I learnt to knit flat before I learning circular knitting. I find knitting in the round to be easier, since I don't have to turn the piece on to the wrong side. I would definitely love to learn more about circular knitting.

Dvora said...

Thanks for a great review of the book. I learn more about it with each stop. Would love to win!

cls32 said...

Thank you for your thorough review! I'm a beginning knitter, and I've only knit a couple of hats on circular needles. Would love to learn more!

Hardware Queen said...

I love knitting in the round, but there's always room for improvement and new techniques. Would love to have this book!

suedriskozago said...

Wow! This looks great! I've taught myself on double pointed needles but would love to learn magic loop. This looks like it would be an excellent way to pick up that skill.